My first reaction when I tried Serge Noir was 'bad joke'. It actually felt sinister to me - foul, messy, just incomprehensible. I remember reading Tania Sanchez review and agreeing completely with her - a mess.
But this had happened years earlier with my first exposure to both Mouchoir de Monsieur and Mitsouoko (believe it or not) so I couldn't help but wonder - as I came to really respect and enjoy both of them. Then I noticed Diamondflame waxing eloquently about it and a year or so later I gave it a shot. Just a small spritz.
Very different. I suspect it's because I had experienced more frankincense and deep balsmasmic stuff, but I could appreciate the blast of burnt spice and herbal top and smoky, ashy base and found it quite intriguing. I haven't bought a bottle - there was a free Lutens 'tube' on offer way back with a purchase but I chose Ambre Sultan instead - I wish I had taken the SN because the 15ml would be perfect.
It's not for everyone but my take on this is that a wider exposure to other stuff made it easier for me to 'get' what is going on in SN. I like it, now - I think it's a brave, ballsy piece of work with no compromises for 'the general public' and that alone is refreshing in this day and age.
So - Diamondflame, merci mon ami